How do you connect to God?
It won’t be the same answer for everyone, so at St Clare’s we like to try lots of different ways of praying. One thing we’ve found is that most of us really value having something visual to focus on, and one idea that has really worked is ‘Gazing Prayers’.
In his letter to the Romans (chapter 8, verse 26), St Paul writes that “we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Sometimes we struggle to know how to pray, and words can seem limiting or inadequate. Gazing Prayers help us to open our hearts and minds to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Its so simple. The Gazing Prayers are just a collection of different images, laid out, so people can gaze at them as they pray. Looking at a picture of a person in hospital, someone could be inspired to pray for those they know who are ill, for the Health Service or for doctors and nurses in the congregation. A picture of a wind farm may prompt them to pray about the impact of humanity on creation.
We were so taken with the idea of Gazing Prayers that we wanted to share it, so St Clare’s has produced its own set of cards to buy.
So how do you use the cards?
Lay out the cards on the floor or a low table, where people can see them. You may want to put an object at the centre of the cards, such as a globe, a cross or a candle. You may wish to add tea lights or flowers, for example, to make the display more beautiful.
You don’t have to use all the cards every time. If you are praying on a particular theme, you could just choose the relevant cards. The cards include pictures relating to:
- Creation and the natural world;
- Peoples of the world, of all ages;
- War, crisis and danger;
- Faith and the church;
- Power and politics.
You may wish to add newspaper clippings (national or local), or photos of particular people or places.
When it comes to the time of prayer, simply sit in quiet, or play some gentle music, and allow to Spirit to move.